What’s your poison? Fictional drugs and substances


Personally i’d be keen to get my hands on J.K. Rowling’s Liquid Luck.

“Desperately tricky to make, and disastrous to get wrong. However, if brewed correctly, as this has been, you will find that all your endeavors tend to succeed… at least until the effects wear off.” Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J. K Rowling


The Vanishing’s (Part three)


Part one:

Part two:

36 hours later and Eleanor was huddled with the seven 4 AM wonderers who’d responded to Alfred’s advert. She was feeding a fire that spluttered like her physics teaches when confronted with students whilst her companions shared a special brew. Following his advertisement’s publication, Alfred had relocated his missing bus stop operations to a cave in a forest. Unfortunately, now he had an audience, nerves meant his pre-prepared prep talk had to be interrupted for an emergency mediation session. Consequently, his supporters were crouched in a cave, bemused about why a man was humming in the corner. They’d begun scanning the terrain for pubs when, like a butterfly breaking free of its cocoon, Alfred arose.

‘Truth owners. Let’s get these stops back.’

The 4AM wonderers cheered and sat down again in the damp.

‘I believe,’ Alfred said, licking a bead of sweat from his lip, ‘that due to extended human exposure, once inanimate bus stops and Christmas trees have developed feelings. Left whilst we jolly through the country, like neglected partners, they’ve become sullen.’

A communal head shaking and gasp of understanding echoed. Alfred paused for an effect (and nodding break).

Getting into his stride, he continued ‘And so, taking the only route available, instead of displaying endpoints, they use destination boards to swear and grumble.’

Disbelief trickled off the moist walls.

‘And the Christmas trees, I’m sure after consideration you’ll appreciate, are equally misused. Not hard to appreciate why.’

Alfred pitched his voice higher and let the words flow faster as he continued.

‘For 24 days we fill their branches with decorations, love, presents. Come January though, and it’s not just turkey thrown onto the street. Driven by hurt, the trees want revenge. The bus stops want revenge. And teamed up, they will get it.’

Had Alfred applied the same passion to his pursuits of love, he would have been a satisfied man: the 4 AM wanderers left as stirred by their leader’s speech as they had been watching Braveheart.

The psychiatrists in search of Arnold had been perturbed by his un-characteristic escape. Fortunately, the wanderer’s cries for solidarity were so hearty that they reverberated throughout the forest, thus alerting the ambling professionals to his location.

After the impassioned but directionless marchers passed the same potato shaped hedge a third time, Eleanor suggested they follow a pine needle and used ticket trail. It could lead she suggested, ‘to the rebel’s inner sanctum’. Having considered the skills he’d gleamed from watching Bear Grylls, Arnold decreed it ‘a first rate plan’. Consequently, as the wanders drained hydration bladders filled with special brew, they reached a peculiar grotto in the heart of the forest.

By following discarded cans (and Arnold’s, Hansel and Gretel inspired exit trail), the concerned psychiatrists arrived in time to see the bedraggled missionaries being fir marched into a bus stop shaped prison. Arnold’s screeching protest fell upon deaf ears. (Largely because neither trees nor stops possess them and the process of interpreting humans is a laborious one).

‘I understand your frustrated. I’m want to help. Stop, please,’

The wanderer’s accidental adornment of the Christmas trees however, succeeded where Arnold failed in making an impact. Unfortunately for all concerned, it wasn’t the sort best suited to demonstrating good intentions.

‘How dare you,’ the bus stops read in unison, ‘never again shall we be decorated.’

‘Garnish the prisoners and dot them along Moon Lane.’ The command scrolled along a stop that had spent 83 years at London Victoria bus station. After nearly a century watching luggage laden people embark on voyages, LVBS was particularly bitter. The firs beside it loaded their needles with used gum and bobbed towards the retching wanderers.

George MacDonald’s ‘Phantasies’: Alice’s darker sibling and C.S.Lewis’s inspiration


‘I regard George MacDonald as my master’ wrote  C.S Lewis of the pioneering Scottish fantasy writer and Christian minister born in Aberdeen in 1824. 

Although surprisingly obscure today, the list of writers inspired by MacDonald’s literary endeavors includes eminent figures such as Tolkien, Carroll, Nesbit and Auden. The Scott himself though, found inspiration through German Religious theory, fantasy and nature. The consequential heterodox theology however, which formed the basis of his preaching’s, found little favour among his Arundel church parish and after struggling on a salary accordingly reduced by £50 per anum, MacDonald was forced to leave.

Unperturbed, the Scott constructed an alter of words with the help of the German Marchen, (a genre which, for want of a more fitting translation, we term ‘Fairy Tale’.) By employing fantasy as a means of illustrating his beliefs it is arguable that the preacher was enabled to leave a greater mark on civilisation, if not through his own work directly, then through that which it inspired. Arguably one of MacDonald’s most successful results is ‘Phantastes’, a Bildungsroman described its author as a ‘faerie romance for men and women’ . The winding narrative follows Anodos on a ‘dream like journey across a mysterious landscape’ which, beginning in his bedroom turned grassy glade, follows his metaphorical progress through forests, a labyrinth and the fairy palace.  Similar to Robert Louis Stevenson’s, Jekyll and Hyde, the reader is left to decide how far the story derives from  the ‘wandering dream of a diseased imagination’.

Fans of Alice in Wonderland’s wandering narrative and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’s morality laced fantasy will find the lesser know Phantastes a delight.  Even religious skeptics who shy away from Bunyan style allegories will appreciate MacDonald’s eloquently imagined narrative. The stream of language, that appears to echo the flow of the constant lakes/ river’s and seas encountered by Anodos, is reason enough to spend time in MacDonald’s Fairyland.

With its warning of religious currents and reasons why one would avoid Phantastes, this has not been the promotional post MacDonald might have hoped for, nonetheless I urge any interested in fantasy’s origins to have a romp through the fairy land that ‘baptised’ the imagination of Narnia’s creator.

‘It is no use trying to account for things in Fairy Land; and one who travels there soon learns to forget the very idea of doing so, and takes everything as it comes; like a child, who, being in a chronic condition of wonder, is surprised at nothing.’

All quotes are taken from Nick Page’s 2008 Special Annotated Edition

Text originally published in 1858


The Vanishing’s (Part two)


Click here part one 

Arnold and the hungover student shared a bond, actually, they shared two; both knew why the bus stops had vanished, and both knew that no one would believe them. Would you believe a hungover student’s claims of having witnessed a Christmas trees and bus stop go on strike? (Especially if said student conceded to having witnessed the scene after a litre of vodka?) Equally, would you trust a man, already thrown from senate for his lack of sense, when he argued that this strike was the result of both inanimate objects gaining feelings, as if by osmosis, from their human interactions?

No? I thought not.

After divulging her account to an audience of ridiculing housemates, Eleanor, the hungover student, allowed the eccentric tale to retreat into her brain’s confines; coincidentally, the place where all the greatest literature evolves.

However, it will surprise no one to know that Alfred was not so easily deterred. A beneficial circumstance for Eleanor and the handful of other 4AM wanders. Other witness you cry? Well of course, did you suppose that bus stops could spout abusive messages without attracting the attention of more than one drunk?  Equally, it is naïve to assume that brunette Christmas trees could bob around bus stops, employ their branches as screwdrivers and carry the stops away without attracting attention.

Why was this information not mentioned previously? Because it was a secret, even to those who’d been sworn at by bus stops or witnessed Christmas trees hop through alleyways with stops adorning their peaks. (If you’ve ever seen Micky Mouse impose life on an army of broomsticks, you can picture the scene). I shouldn’t have to explain, but I will, that the reason why this society of witnesses had remained secret, even to each other, was because no one believed their eyes. Generally bus stops signs don’t read, ‘if I can’t go to Linkety Lane, then you can’t either’ and equally Christmas trees, once thrown out, commonly rot on corners not carry bus stops. Like Eleanor, the 4AM wanderers sent their visions into an unconscious realm. A witness later conceded that suppressing the images was more sensible then undergoing examination.

However, as the vice presented deduced, Alfred was not a fan of sensible options. Consequently, this advertisement appeared in the national news;

Have you been sworn at by a bus stop? Witnessed a Christmas tree use it branches to unscrew a bus stop? Run into a gang of trees holding bus stops aloft whilst bobbing and or hopping? Contact Alfred at busstopandchristmastreehavesouls@hotmail.com. Help discover the truth for the good of the nation and its missing bus stop problem.

To be continued…

here: https://ringladytraining.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/the-vanishings-part-three/

What doesn’t kill you

Life sucks.

Relationships end, pet goldfish die, parents’ divorce and the phrase, ‘experience required’, haunts graduates like a malicious poltergeist.

I’m going to stop for a moment and reassure the readers with cursers floating over the close button that I’m not about to indulge in a 500 word Morrissey-esque soliloquy. Instead, having acknowledged that suffering exists, I wish to talk about escape, freedom, unicorns and rainbows. (Well not so much of the last two; that was more for effect).

Human beings are remarkable creatures. Today a son, brother, mother and a friend have been lost and tomorrow a father, sister and a grandmother will also pass away. The lover, tea drinker, story teller, hangover partner and picture taker will cease to exist as anything but a memory. I speak from experience when I say Nietzsche’s ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ theory doesn’t do much to soothe grief’s ache. Remarkably though, we not only survive loss but find the strength and even the desire to laugh and smile again.

Looking back ten years after my Grandmother’s death, I can appreciate the truth in the Nietzsche saying. Nonetheless, I recognise that at the time it was my ability to escape from the deaths reality that aided me, not the thought that the pain was making me stronger. Children, bubbled in Mother Nature’s gift of innocence, are naturally adept at this trick; how often do you come across a child crying for any reason more serious then that they don’t want a bath? I believe that as adults we attempt to resurrect this skill and it is because of our ability to adopt a coping mechanism, that we are initially strong enough to become stronger.

As a thirteen year old girl straddling the borders of childhood and adolescence, the shielding cocoon of innocence was no longer enough to protect me from the grief of losing Grandma. In need of escape I turned to literature and the fantasy worlds of J. k. Rowling and C.S. Lewis. Today I still credit my love of fantasy for the way it took me as far from the reality of having lost my Grandma as possible. When I read I was no longer Grandma Anne-less Hannah, I was someone else sharing in a world where lions talk; broomsticks fly and students study magic not maths. Interestingly, I also recognise the avoidance of realistic everyday life fiction I’ve always nurtured as a response to my desire to escape the mundanity of everyday life.

As a teenager attempting to come to terms with a turbulent adolescence, I flew to the other side of the world. In search of the fantasy lands I’d escaped to as a young teenager I took a bus to the Aussie outback, a canoe to the everglades and a boat to the beach. As I slept under the stars in an Australian swag; watched bats sweep along a river lit by moonlight and mounted waves that churned my stomach, I was again in Narnia. This time though I’d made my fantasy and so I assumed it was reality.

However, encapsulated within the very word fantasy comes its downfall and its limitation. Ultimately fantasy is the creation of someone’s mind and however bright and captivating it might be, when you turn of the light or return from your travels, reality, like a wave crashing upon the unobservant surfer, will be there to greet you. When I had to face the reality of having no money to fund my hunt for fantastical adventures, the realities I’d ran to the other side of the world to escape from arose.  Just like escape into the bottom of a glass or end of a syringe only blurs reality, escape through books, travel, music or art can only ever be a plaster for realities wounds. However, having acknowledged this, I don’t condone the escape that fantasy provides. If it allows the grieving, the struggling and the suffering even half an hours escape from their reality, and perhaps even the time to develop the strength to face what they run from, then it’s worth is still astronomical.

And so, fully aware of the irony of my using words to warn of the pitfalls of fantasy, I say to anyone whose head tonight is awash with upset and concerns, go ahead and read a book.